• Pregnancy, maternity and paternity rights under UK Employment Law

    If you’re having a baby and are an employee, you have the right to up to 52 weeks’ statutory maternity leave. You are entitled to maternity leave from the first day in your employment and may also be eligible to maternity pay if you give the correct notice.

    Maternity leave and shared parental leave

    You don’t have to take the full 52 weeks, but the first two weeks (or four weeks for factory workers) following the birth are compulsory.

    If you have a partner, you might be able to use Shared Parental Leave (SPL). This means you can end your maternity leave early and the rest of your entitlement can be used flexibly between you and your partner.

    Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

    You get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if all the following apply:

    • you’ve been working continuously for 26 weeks for the same employer before your ‘qualifying week’
    • you earn at least £118 a week on average for 8 weeks before your qualifying week

    Agency workers might also be able to get SMP.

    If you’re not eligible for SMP, you might be able to get Maternity Allowance { https://www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance}.

    Your qualifying week

    If you’re entitled to paid maternity leave, you must inform your employer no later than the 15 weeks before your baby is due.

    You need to work out when your ‘qualifying week’ is so you know:

    • when to give notice to your employer to get maternity leave and pay
    • whether you’ll get either Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance

    To work out your qualifying week, use a calendar to count 15 weeks back from the week you’re due to have your baby.

    You must tell your employer that you are pregnant and when you would like to start your maternity leave. It’s a good idea to put this in writing.

    Your employer can ask to see a medical certificate – you’ll get this from your doctor or midwife once you’re 20 weeks’ pregnant

    You can calculate your maternity leave entitlement using the gov.uk calculator for maternity leave { https://www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents}

    Discrimination or unfair treatment during pregnancy or maternity

    During pregnancy or maternity, it is against the law for your employer to dismiss you or treat you unfairly just because you tell them you are pregnant. This is regardless of how long you have worked in this employment

    If you are dismissed while pregnant or on maternity leave, your employer must put the reason for your dismissal in writing. If your dismissal can be related to pregnancy or maternity, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal and discrimination at an employment tribunal.

    Women returning to work following maternity leave have the right to return to their original job or suitable alternative.

    If your role is to be made redundant while you are on maternity leave, your employer must offer you a suitable alternative role.

    For further guidance visit:

    • ACAS {https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave}
    • GOV.UK {https://www.gov.uk/employers-maternity-pay-leave}
    • Getting legal advice

      365 Employment Law can help you to ensure you are treated fairly and within the law. Sometimes it helps to talk through matters with a specialist legal adviser – you can call us or email with your enquiry – or, if you live or work in Sussex, we can meet in person – whatever suits you best.

      For an informal conversation about your situation, telephone 01903 863284 or use the contact form to detail your requirements.